As your paper has published on numerous occasions, it is important that we support investments in public education programs, particularly early childhood education programs, to help kids who are considered at-risk and economically disadvantaged.

My support for early learning programs comes from my experience serving in the armed forces and my continued interest in seeing more youth ready to serve so our nation’s military stays strong.The reality is that 68 percent of Maine youth are not fit for military service because of obesity, drug use, a history of trouble with the law, or poor academic achievement.

Our military needs more graduates who are ready and able to serve. This is where early childhood education programs come in. For some kids, they play a huge role in setting them up to succeed in whatever they choose to do later in life. They can determine a child’s success throughout K-12 education, in postsecondary studies, and in their career, community and family life.

Your editorial staff suggested we better evaluate the impact of programs like pre-K (“Our View: With pre-K programs, it’s the results that matter,” Nov. 15). I believe investing in measuring their impact on kids throughout the education pipeline is worthy, as is continuing to invest in their expansion so more kids across Maine have access to them and participate.

Continued support of early learning is critical to building a strong foundation for many Maine children who need it. It is critical, too, for graduating young men and women who are ready and able to do what they choose. That includes serving in our country’s armed forces.

Richard Mayo

vice admiral, U.S. Navy (retired)

Harpswell

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